Unfortunately, a full two-thirds of American adults are overweight. The obesity crisis – and accumulation of unhealthy belly fat – gets even worse during midlife.
Even a few extra inches of fat around your waist (called “central obesity”) increases your risk of a heart attack, diabetes, or other disease. This belly fat doesn’t just sit there. It actually secretes hormones that not only stimulate your appetite, but also stimulate the development of even more fat cells.
When it comes to eating “heart-healthy,” I recommend a modified pant-based diet that incorporates elements of the so-called Mediterranean diet. A plant-based diet concentrates on raw and cooked vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, and legumes (beans). The Mediterranean diet allows Greek-style yogurt, olives, goat cheese, and an occasional glass of red wine, lending variety and taste to your diet so you can stick to it.
Here are a few of my favorite diet tips:
- Red meat should only be eaten on special occasions, and even chicken should be consumed in small portions. I recommend you get most of your animal-based protein from fish.
- Fill up on vegetables and fruits before anything else. Unlike grains and meat, fruits and vegetables send a clear signal to your brain that you are full, and it’s time to stop eating.
- When you are “dressing” a salad, use olive oil sparingly in a vinaigrette dressing. Put the dressing to the side, where you can just dip your fork into it as needed.
I realize it’s difficult to make these types of lifestyle changes. But if you are overweight, sedentary, and use poor eating habits – especially eating at fast food restaurants – you will get heart disease, period. So make a decision today to eat right in order to live a life that’s truly worth living. You deserve nothing less.
To Your Best Heart Health,
Chauncey W. Crandall, M.D., F.A.C.C.